A crisis management course can assist business leaders in developing strong leadership skills in order to improve organisational outcomes. Whether it’s delivering a difficult message, having tough conversations, or communicating with the press, adopting successful crisis management strategies are key.
Our Managing A Crisis course will teach you how to maintain employee motivation and productivity during challenging times, communicate difficult news with tact and diplomacy, and support employees including managing their associated stress.
It will also give you insights into what alternatives to consider before laying off staff, and if there is no other choice, how best to plan and implement staff reductions, and how to strengthen your organisation during difficult times.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a crisis management course include:
- Learning the key actions to take for effective crisis management
- Exploring the steps for planning crisis communications before a crisis occurs
- Studying how to assemble an effective crisis communications team
- Understanding what an effective public response to a company crisis is
- Examining how to resolve and close a crisis incident
- Learning crisis management strategies to improve outcomes
- Exploring strategies for responding to difficult times
- Studying how to win employee buy-in to reduce costs during difficult times
- Examining measures to reduce staff-related costs, as an alternative to staff layoffs
- Learning ways to restructure work as an alternative to staff layoffs
- Exploring how to plan staff layoffs and deciding who to lay off appropriately
- Studying how to communicate layoff decisions to employees appropriately
- Understanding how to strengthen an organisation during difficult times
- Examining when and where to initiate difficult conversations
- Learning the four steps for managing the stress of a difficult conversation
- Exploring constructive and diplomatic conversations
- Studying how to demonstrate the right mindset
- Understanding how to analyse the facts when preparing for a difficult conversation
- Examining how to analyse emotions when preparing for a difficult conversation
- Learning how to identify your goals and plan a difficult conversation
- Exploring how to demonstrate the appropriate mindset during a difficult conversation
- Studying techniques for handling difficult conversations
- Understanding how to recognise the common signs of stress in employees
- Examining time management techniques that managers can use to manage their own stress
- Learning strategies for reducing employee stress during times of organisational change
- Studying how to focus on employee motivation and be an example during times of change
- Understanding how to communicate with employees during times of change
- Gaining insights into fostering a good organisational culture during times of change
- Learning how to support employees during difficult times
- Studying how to acknowledge staff experiences and allowing them to react
Strategic crisis leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic
Launched in 2002, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) is a global leader in education and government-focused research relevant to the public sector. In an article published in April, they outlined some of the challenges faced with COVID-19 in terms of strategic crisis leadership. However, many of their insights are relevant for a range of crises and are a great motivation for undertaking our crisis management course.
The COVID-19 pandemic falls into the ‘once in a lifetime’ category, but the challenges it presents are similar to those researchers investigate when studying “mega crises’ and ‘transboundary crises’. Public service and political leaders must deliver their ultimate performance in the face of exceptional gaps, flaws and threats in the available data. This is combined with high levels of uncertainty about how interventions may play out.
They must also make decisions under the forensic scrutiny of business owners, the public and experts, and in the full light of the media. Offering strong strategic leadership under these circumstances appears to be daunting, but it’s not impossible. Some of the challenges (and our recommendations in terms of facing them) are:
Challenge 1: Detect incoming issues in a fast-changing situation
The scale and speed of the COVID-19 threat has surprised us all. By the time it developed into an ‘official’ crisis, the virus and its impacts were already crossing national borders and impacting economic sectors from tourism and hospitality to health.
It is difficult to call a crisis when the experts, politicians and the public are not mentally ready to accept the emerging threat. COVID-19 will also give rise to new crises, which may be hard to imagine now, but will be conventional wisdom in a week’s time.
Recommendations: Accept that you are now in uncharted waters, where some of the normal rules of problem emergence and definition are no longer valid. Leaders have to grasp the evolving nature of the crisis in a timely manner in order to stay ahead of the curve. Framing and timing is everything.
Challenge 2: Make sense of a dynamic threat with limited information
It has been difficult understanding the scope, speed and consequences of COVID-19. There seem to be many variables and not enough information. Experts are also disagreeing on escalation rates and the impact of proposed measures. Predictions are based on modelling efforts that make use of disputed input variables, and a result, leaders are navigating in semi-darkness.
Recommendations: If there are major limits to what you can know right now, you need to ensure you have whatever information and resources that are available at your disposal. This includes the issues of societal resilience, feedback on testing, statistics and hospital bed capacities, and the extent of compliance with regulations and new laws. It’s also important to recognise that threat trajectories and success measures in other countries don’t automatically translate into what’s best here in Australia. The crisis is surrounded by uncertainty, however, it is better to accept limitations to information rather than waiting for better conditions before decision-making is undertaken
Challenge 3: Make life-or-death decisions
The COVID-19 crisis presents all the dilemmas that crisis experts fear most. From balancing unpopular measures against legitimate necessity and choosing between who will live and die, to weighing up economic damage in order to save lives. These defining choices will determine how history is written.
Recommendations: Avoid ‘ heroic leadership’ — stick with the limited hard data you have. But also realise that the experts won’t take all values into consideration. Prudent political leadership is about weighing up the balance of interests with pragmatic value judgements. Try to avoid irreversible decisions as long as you can, and create the political and mental space for reversing and adjusting decisions that turn out to be wrong or counter-productive.
Challenge 4: Strategic coordination
In a global crisis, many organisations — private, public and societal — need to do their part. They must work together as the effectiveness and integrity of the overall response is dependant on a combination of individual responses. The same is true of citizens. They need to be given a license to respond via public encouragement, regulatory flexibility and explicit facilitation.
Recommendations: In a crisis like COVID-19, institutionalised boundaries and formal competencies can be navigated, as long as the skills of organisations and people are respected and recognised. Leaders need to strategically coordinate and bring everyone on board.
Challenge 5: Keep citizens on side
Crisis communication best practice emphasises the need for timely, consistent, clear and repeated messaging and actionable advice that’s delivered by credible sources. Government communications can offer ambiguous messages that seek to balance competing priorities. As such, leaders often fail to convince citizens and be disconnected from people’s experiences. Because they can be overly cautious in trying to avoid panic, they may not communicate the whole truth. However, research has shown that most people can handle negative information as long as they are given clear guidance on how to act upon it.
Recommendations: If you get it wrong, rumours and criticism will soon let you know. So it’s important to impart information and guidance not just with data and expert knowledge, but by understanding the public’s evolving spirit and mood. All messaging has to have a convincing and clear bottom line. For example, if the elderly are vulnerable, the messaging should be aimed at protecting the elderly. It’s basically, treating people like adults — something you’ll learn fairly quickly with our crisis management course!
Study our crisis management course and learn how to negotiate challenging workplace situations and communicate tactfully and diplomatically with our Managing A Crisis course.